Principle and conduct of debates

General Principles

The Africa Initiative Group conferences are dialogue platforms which encourage in- depth interaction during two days followed by a morning of synthesis and recommendations.  It enables participants to focus on and provide in-depth analysis of all aspects of a given crucial issue, in order to come up with a framework of coherent recommendations, and common visions and languages amongst decision makers from different horizons.

This is why it is best for participants to stay during the whole conference.
These conferences also offer time for informal exchanges and networking, relaxation in a pleasant environment, complemented with artistic and cultural events to complement the activities during the two days. Spouses who so wish are warmly invited to the conference as observers and a complementary tourist and cultural program is available to them.

Recommendations emanating from these discussions will be largely communicated to targeted international organizations, governments, civil society opinion leaders, regulating institutions, etc. Africa Initiative Group also sees itself as an « action tank » and organizes a follow-up of the key issues and recommendations.

Conduct of the Conference

As with the Aspen Institute, Africa Initiative Group is a non-partisan, informal and open dialogue platform. In order to facilitate sincere and open discussions and a truly open dialogue, as well as to encourage the group’s creativity, participants at these Conferences must always interact and speak from a personal perspective and not as representatives of a structure, institution or government.

The conferences of the Africa Initiative Group are not public. Debates are held in closed circuit without an audience except for special observers invited by the Group, to listen but not to participate in the debates.

Participants (40) sit around the conference table. Two or three introductions - determined in advance by the conference steering committee - open the discussion, following which all participants take part in the debate: the conference is not meant to be a succession of academic or formal presentations.


At the beginning of each session, the moderator briefly presents the topic of the debate and gives the floor to the person introducing the issue.

Introducers launch the debate. They present different aspects of the issue, asking questions rather than providing answers. Their intervention remains short, between 5 and 7 minutes per introduction.

A general debate is then engaged, led by the moderator, who is responsible for managing the time, recentering the debate if and when necessary, and ensuring that all opinions, sensitivities and nationalities around the table are expressed. In general, interventions relate to concrete cases, sharing good practices and lessons learned. At the end of the meeting, the moderator - or one of the participants or introducers – recapitulates the main ideas and briefly summarizes the session.


The Group will preserve the confidentiality and spontaneity of the ideas freely flowing around the table As a result, journalists invited to attend must commit to respect the confidentiality of the comments of each participant. They will only be allowed to reproduce the debates or mention the name of the author of an intervention if the latter agrees and the authorization of the Africa Initiative group.

Journalists may however conduct individual interviews with participants outside the conference hall.